Entertainment

Richard Williams responds to Will Smith’s slap: ‘We will not condone hitting anyone’

The real-life tennis coach, played by Will Smith in his latest Oscar-winning performance, has distanced himself from the film star’s on-stage skirmish with Chris Rock at the awards show.

Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis titans Venus and Serena Williams, was the subject of last year’s biopic King Richard, for which Smith won the Academy Award for Best Male Actor.

In his acceptance speech after beating Rock, Smith compared himself to Mr. Williams’ famous on-air defense of his daughter Venus during a television interview in 1995.

“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy dad – just like they said about Richard Williams,” Smith said. “But love will make you do crazy things.”

However, on Monday, in a statement for NBC News, Mr. Williams said of his son and spokesman Chavoita LeSane: “We do not know all the details of what happened. But we do not condone hitting anyone unless it is in self-defense.”

Smith sparked an instant global outcry on Sunday night when he approached Rock during a speech and slapped him in the face after a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Rock had joked that he “couldn’t wait” to see Pinkett Smith, who shaved her head last year after suffering from hair loss due to alopecia, in an imaginary sequel to GI Jane, a 1997 film about a female Navy lieutenant who messes up her hair as part of a bid to join a special forces unit.

After he sat back down, Smith was heard shouting at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out of your damn mouth!”

Mr LeSane said his father was surprised when Smith hit Rock but declined to comment on the comparison in Smith’s speech.

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Mr. Williams coached his daughters to play tennis from the age of four and a half, eventually helping them become world champions, with Serena Williams widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

In a famous 1995 ABC interview with Venus Williams, Mr. Williams objected to the way the reporter was being questioned and chewed him up on camera.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/richard-williams-will-smith-oscars-slap-b2046069.html Richard Williams responds to Will Smith’s slap: ‘We will not condone hitting anyone’

JOE HERNANDEZ

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